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Bulls Drop Match to Kent State in Five Sets

Sophomore right side Emma Gielas
ubbulls.com

The UB Volleyball team lost a key match at Kent State in five sets, 20–25, 22–25, 27–29, 25–21 and 15–12. Buffalo had defeated Kent State in five sets the night before, but the loss drops the Bulls to fifth place in the MAC East with a 3–8 record. Had the Bulls won, they would have been tied for third place with Akron and Kent State, but ahead of Kent on tie-breakers.

In the third set, Kent took a 24–21 lead on kill from outside hitter Taylor Heberle, and then Buffalo fought off three set points, starting with a block on Heberle from middle blocker Courtney Okwara and sophomore right side Emma Gielas. Then an ace from Gielas and a kill by freshman outside hitter Maria Futey tied the set. Kent would get another set point on a kill from Heberle, but then Buffalo scored three in a row to take the set, two of the points coming on kills from sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik.

In the fifth set, Buffalo fell behind 6–2, as Heberle had two kills in a 4–0 run, and the Bulls never were able to catch up.

Buffalo had huge performances from Gielas, with 18 kills and 3 block assists. Okwara had 16 kills, tying her career high, committed just three errors, and also had four block assists and a solo block. Malik had 15 kills (with just two attack errors) and Futey had 14 kills.

However, the Bulls had trouble stopping Heberle, who had a match-high and career high 22 kills in just four sets. Buffalo had managed to neutralize Kent State’s outside hitter Savannah Matthews (the Flash’s leading scorer this year), who had only 2 kills and 2 errors (after a high-error performance by Matthews the night before). Kent State coach Don Gromala brought in Heberle at outside hitter, who had missed several matches due to injury and moved Matthews to the back row, and Heberle did her damage. Heberle came through at the end of the fifth set, with kills for the Golden Flash’s last three points of the match.

Bulls senior defensive specialist Paige Back had 4 aces, one shy of her career high set during her freshman year. Freshman setter Mandy Leigh set a new career high with 59 assists. Junior libero Jenna Sonneberg had 23 digs, 10 more than her previous high this season.

The Bulls will be on the road next weekend, at Eastern Michigan on Friday night at 6pm and then at Central Michigan on Saturday at 4pm.

Notes:

  • Buffalo coach Scott Smith deviated from recent pattern by not changing his rotation in the fifth set. Instead of first serve coming from rotation 4, this time Buffalo’s first serve came from rotation 3 (Paige Beck). Given the success Beck had in serving so far in the match, it seemed like a wise decision.
  • Malik had just two errors, a great improvement over the 11 in the previous match.
  • Buffalo had just 5 aces and 13 service errors in the match. Kent had 4 aces and 5 service errors.